I have been tough on a “movement” that formed in Amarillo to promote a downtown revival plan that includes a multipurpose event venue.
The Amarillo Millennial Movement, which in reality was a one-woman band, went all out for approval of the MPEV in a non-binding city referendum. The vote took place in November 2015; voters endorsed construction of the MPEV.
What happened next has been the source of my criticism. The young woman who headed up AMM, Meghan Riddlespurger, then moved to Fort Worth. She had argued that the MPEV — aka “the Ballpark” — would entice young residents to stay “home,” to enjoy the fruits that the MPEV would bear. Well, it wasn’t enough to persuade her to stay. With her departure, AMM disappeared.
That’s the bad news. I have some good news to report.
Construction on the MPEV has begun. The Local Government Corporation has signed a lease agreement with Elmore Group, owners of the AA minor-league baseball team that’s going to play ball in Amarillo. They’ll toss the first pitch in April 2019.
My point about the good news is that AMM can take pride in the legacy it has left in its wake.
The MPEV is going to change the face, shape and personality of the city’s downtown district once it’s completed. Indeed, downtown’s appearance already has morphed into something my wife and I barely recognize these days. It looks a damn sight better than it did when my wife and I arrived here in early 1995.
We had lunch today in a new restaurant that has opened in the old Woolworth Building at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Polk Street. The Levine Building makeover is well under way. Across the street from where we ate today is another eatery that’s taking shape.
Downtown is full of hustle, bustle and buzz as crews continue their work on myriad construction projects.
Oh, yeah. The MPEV site prep is well under way across the street from City Hall.
Even though the irony that AMM would vanish after its founder pitched for retaining younger residents’ interest in their hometown is too rich to pass up, I don’t want to leave it at that.
AMM’s founder, young Meghan Riddlespurger, can look at her former home with pride at what is happening at this moment.
I am one resident who is quite proud of the progress that Amarillo has made — and is continuing to make.